Six Tunisian police wounded in hunt for Islamists near Algeria

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 30, 2013 2:54 PM

TUNIS (Reuters) - A land mine suspected of being planted by hardline Islamists wounded six Tunisian police officers on Tuesday as they pursued a group of insurgents near the Algerian border, the interior ministry said.

It was the third mine blast in Tunisia in two days, prompting Prime Minister Ali Larayedh to hold an emergency meeting with his defense and interior ministers.

On Monday two policemen were seriously wounded in two explosions, also while searching for militants in the remote Mount Chaambi region west of Tunis. One policeman lost a leg in Monday's blasts and the other was badly wounded in the eyes.

Mount Chaambi has been repeatedly targeted in search operations by security forces since last December, when a policeman was killed in clashes with gunmen there.

Larayedh told reporters his government, led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, would not tolerate "terrorism".

"Terrorism and spreading death have no future and will not prevail," he said. "The will of the people and life will triumph."

Tunisian police blamed militant Salafists for the assassination of secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid in February, provoking the biggest street protests in Tunisia since the 2011 overthrow of secular dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

The mine blasts were the latest attacks blamed on hardline Islamists in the north African state, long among the most secular in the Arab world.

Salafists have also targeted wine sellers in several Tunisian cities, prompting secularists to accuse them of having formed a religious police and threatening the state.

(Reporting By Tarek Amara; editing by Mike Collett-White)